A senior official at the U.S. Department of State told journalists on Monday that Ankara’s request for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen has merit. Gülen’s transnational movement, the official affirmed under condition of anonymity, operates more as an organized crime ring than as a philanthropic organization:

The official told reporters there are “reasonable grounds” to take the Turkish government’s accusations against Gulen seriously. The official held a briefing for reporters but insisted on anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The State Department official said that charity and educational organizations run by Gulen have suspicious structure and financing and look “a lot like the ways in which organized crime sets itself up of folks who are trying to hide money for money laundering” rather than a “benign religious movement.”

The briefing comes several days after Turkey’s justice minister [Bekir Bozdag] met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to press the extradition request.

Bozdag said last week that some of the coup plotters have confessed to taking orders from Gulen. He also said that Gulen was receiving secret recordings of conversations of a top Turkish official provided to the cleric by one of his followers.

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